Our “Young” Adult Group at church recently went through a study on spiritual gifts and then how to use them in different areas of stewardship. We discussed different types of stewardship; giving money, giving time, giving your gifts and talents. After talking about this for weeks, I decided this was something I wanted to begin to explore with my kids: their spiritual gifts and how to use their gifts to help others in our church and our community.
I decided to take on figuring out my kiddos spiritual gifts all my own...well with a little help from my husband and some of the other Christians who work with our kids often. I am by no way an expert on spiritual gifts, but after spending so long reading and researching them, I figured I had enough of a semi handle that I could begin to help them identify their own and work with them. I also used this article that was an amazing insight on which ones my kids had. It’s not a complete list of the spiritual gifts as I know them, but it includes a good number of them!
After praying over it and considering it deeply, I came to a few conclusions about the kids. The hardest one to figure out was, by far, Doodle, our 13 year old. She’s a very quiet and apathetic person for the most part; behaviors that are not close to or mirroring my own. I always tell my husband, she couldn’t be more like him if they actually shared blood! Taking that into consideration, Josh and I discussed his gifts and which of those we thought she encompassed as well. I personally think her most prominent gift is Helps/Services. There isn’t a single thing that happens at our church she doesn’t want to be a part of or help make it work. I also think she has an inkling of Discernment as well, but pretty much everyone has more discernment than I. I also believe she has the gift of Craftmanship.
Princess(7) came next and she was easier for me; we are so much alike. (I also think that’s part of the reason I have such a hard time with certain behaviors of hers.) She is definitely highest in Exhortation/Encouragement, Mercy, and Giving. Monkey(5) is probably highest in Mercy and Leadership…my little leading man. Bug and Bear are still pretty young to figure out what their gifts are, though I’m about 99% sure Bug will be somewhere in the leading/apostleship gifts-I can already tell that!
(My headstrong bossy bottom leads his own way!)
Once we had a mini grasp on what their gifts are, we began to discuss how to use their gifts as “kids”.(The teenager would be very angry I referred to her as a child!) I spent a lot of time thinking this over, and I felt pushed to share these ideas with y’all, in case you have your own children you want to encourage to get involved in your church and community, or you’re a leader in the church who works with teens and kids. This is not a finished list by any means, but it is something I plan to come back to and add onto as we discover more ways for our children to become involved.
Volunteering within different groups and focuses is one way that most kids can help develop and use their spiritual gift. Volunteering in people based ways is a great way for those kids who have the gifts of encouragement, mercy, hospitality, and evangelism to get involved. Bring them to nursing homes for holiday sings and visits, encourage them to help out with the nursery and younger children as they grow older. That’s also a great way to nurture those who have the gift of leadership or teaching.
For kids with the gift of helps or services, find ways for them to help the church and the community in concrete and visible ways. Cleaning the church after activities, building and setting up for things, being involved in the “behind the scenes” parts of the happenings at the church. If they are old enough and it’s applicable in your area, the option of Habitats for Humanity can be perfect for kids with this gift, who also dabble in craftmanship. When younger children have the gift of teaching, have them be active in lessons during Sunday school or within the actual sermons.
If you find the kids you work with lean towards giving or mercy, help them find ways to participate in giving-be it financial, their services, or time. Our little one loves to save her change for specific groups, one of her favorite being giving her change to the church’s most recent outside donation area. Another option is to regularly purge their toys and clothes to give to those who need them more. When a child has the gift of giving, make sure you’re ready to help educate them and pick where and who they want to give to. Holiday times are great for giving opportunities.
The gifts of knowledge and wisdom are ones I do not possess, so I can only speculate on how to help a child develop these. I believe one way is to encourage their questioning and help quench their thirst to become more Biblically aware. Nothing breaks my heart more than when I hear a child ask a question about the Word and the response they get is “because I said so” or they’re shushed. When you find a child who possesses these gifts, encourage their questioning. One way to help foster it within the church and community is to involve them in the Word more and go to them when there are questions and inquiries about Biblical matters.
Faith is also a gift I do not possess, but one I tend to envy. If a child has the gift of faith or the gift of intercession, prayer is an important part of their lives. In our church, we take prayer requests every week. One way you can help a young one grow is to help them pick an area of need and lead them(or let them lead you!) in praying on and over that.
As I stated before, this isn’t a finished list by any means! And the most important part of helping your child with cultivating their spiritual gift is to listen to them and to listen to God in what their gift is and what they can do to use it best. Every spiritual gift is created equal, but even if you have the same gifts, you are not created the same as another. We all use our gifts in different ways…and our kids are no different. They know what feels right and what their talents are in…listen to them!